A book is always a collective effort. This project could not have
been completed without the support of certain people to whom
I would like to express my wholehearted gratitude. Among
the many colleagues and friends who have helped me, I would
like to thank Marie-Hélène Delamare, Jacques Galinier, André
Mary, Stephan Palmié, Susan Rogers, Michka Sachnine, and
Antonio Carlos de Souza Lima, as well as the many people who
assisted me in this research, especially Leonardo Carneiro and
Ana Messias. I would also like to express my gratitude to the
Museu Nacional (ufrj, Rio de Janeiro), where this story be-
gan, the Laboratoire d’ethnologie et de sociologie comparative
(lesc, University of Paris X), and to the French National Center
for Scientific Research (cnrs), which gave me a grant for the
English translation.
A special thanks go to my husband Elliott Laffitte and my son
Alexandre for their endless patience and support.
Finally, I am forever indebted to the Candomblé initiates and
Umbanda mediums who shared their knowledge with me, par-
ticularly all the members of the Ilê Ifá Mongé Gibanauê in Rio
de Janeiro, and the late Alvinho de Omolu. This work is dedi-
cated to his memory.
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